How to Enjoy Your Visit to Zeelandic Flanders the Best Way
Zeelandic Flanders (Zeeuws-Vlaanderen)
This place where I live, Zeelandic Flanders in The Netherlands, is the perfect place to visit when you are planning a vacation to Holland and if you like seafood, biking, the beach and nature: we have it all. The village Breskens still has a fishing fleet, a fish auction and a fish market and a fishing museum. The Roman city of Aardenburg, has an archeological museum and the famous St. Bavo church (architectural style: Westerschelde Gothic) with its painted graves. The old village Sluis, where shops are open 7 days a week, daily visited by hundreds of Belgian people. We have Philippine, famous for its seafood restaurants. We have beautiful beaches at the North Sea, lots of camp sites along the North Sea coast, hotels and bed & breakfast accommodations. Biking through our nature brings you peace of mind. To put it briefly: Zeelandic Flanders is a must if you're planning to go on vacation to the Netherlands and love the quietness of nature.
Have You Ever Travelled to the Netherlands?
Zeelandic Flanders - Geographically
We Have Emerged from the Sea
Zeeland is the only Province in The Netherlands, which consists of several peninsulas. The people who were born here and live here have always been closely bonded to the sea. Zeelandic Flanders is the only part of the Province Zeeland, which is not surrounded on three sides by water. It's bordered to Belgium in the South with its beautiful historic cities Bruges, Knokke and Ghent which are not far away.
Zeelandic Flanders hasn't always been one piece of land. In early centuries it consisted of several small islands and during all the past centuries, land was regained from the sea. Each new piece got surrounded by small, high dikes on which trees were planted to keep the soil from slipping away. That's why, even today, we have so many trees bordering our rural lanes.
First We Had Ferry Boats, Now We Have a Tunnel
Our Only Connection to the Rest of the Netherlands Is a Tunnel
Geographically it's a bit odd that this is a part of The Netherlands and not a part of Belgium, but we're happy the way it is, though we've been sitting quite isolated from the rest of Holland for a long time. Maybe that's why the people in Zeelandic Flanders are more focused on Belgium for a lot of things and have a bit more exuberant life style than the people at the other side of the sea arm Western Scheldt. This sea arm has always been kind of a barrier, because we could only cross it by ferry boats. There used to be two boats, one Breskens-Vlissingen and one Perkpolder-Kruiningen.
The Western Scheldt Tunnel 6,6 km (4.10 miles)
The Western Scheldt Tunnel
Both ferries ceased to exist when the famous Western Scheldt tunnel was opened in 2003. Only in Breskens they kept a fast ferry for pedestrians and bicyclists. So today, when we want to travel North to the rest of Holland, we can cross the Western Scheldt through this famous tunnel which has a length of 6.6 kilometer (=4.10 miles). Or when we want to travel to the rest of the Netherlands through Belgium, we have to cross the river 'Scheldt' in Antwerp.
Either way we have to pay a tunnel fee to get to the rest of our own country. The people, living in Zeelandic Flanders are not at all happy with that, though we get a reduction for the Western Scheldt tunnel, it's still 4.00 Euros ($5,50) each time we want to cross over. Imagine all the people who live in Zeelandic Flanders, but are working or going to school across the Western Scheldt. That adds up to $10,00 a day.
In our local hymn, we call it an 'exclusive piece of land' and that's exactly what it is: exclusive but beautiful in many aspects.
Are You Interested in Fishing?
How Can I Find the Best Fishing Spots?
In this part of the Netherlands you can either go fishing on trout in a pond, sea fishing from the beach or sea fishing from a boat. It's not allowed to fish in the canals and old creeks without a proper permit. The local Tourist Office can tell you all about that.
* Fishing on Trout in a pond
Nowhere in the Netherlands you'll find wild trout swimming in rivers, alas, you'll only find them in commercial fishing ponds. There is one close to the village Oostburg and it's called 'The Henricus Hoeve'. You can find it on the internet. You pay for 4,5 hours fishing, they put 3 or 4 trout in the pond and all the trout you're able to catch you can take home. You have to submit to certain rules though which will be explained to you. If you don't have your own rods, you can hire one.
* Sea fishing from the beach
Sea fishing from the beach is free, but you'll need your own fishing gear and sea worms. In Breskens and in Cadzand are stores that sell the sea worms.
* Sea fishing from a boat
There are several fishing boat companies that organize a fishing day at sea. There's one in Breskens and there are several in Vlissingen (across the Western Scheldt). Those boat trips are a lot of fun and depending on the season you can catch a lot of fish.
The Fishing Pond 'Henricus Hoeve' in Oostburg
Boat Fishing from the Fishing Boat 'Zeearend'
Are You Interested in Chilling on the Sunny Beach?
Our Beaches Are Clean and Beautiful, but Also Full of People
At the West coast of Zeelandic Flanders we have beautiful dunes and beaches at the North Sea. In Summer frequently visited by German and Belgian tourists. Villages along the sea shore are Cadzand-Bad, Groede, Nieuwvliet and Knokke in Belgium.
The beaches are beautiful, but because the North Sea bends into the sea arm Western Scheldt, the ingoing and outgoing tides are very strong. That's why they've build so many wave-breakers on the beaches. Swimming in sea can therefore be quite dangerous. Just be careful and don't go too far into the sea, when the outgoing tide is there. On some beaches, Cadzand-Bad mostly you can find shark teeth in the sand. They make very nice necklaces when set in silver.
Horse Riding at the Sea Shore
Beach in Zeelandic Flanders
What Kind of Accomodation Are You Looking For?
Sleeping accomodations are important when your on a trip abroad. Some only want the basic, some want a bit or more luxury. You can find it all in Zeelandic Flanders. There are lots of campings if you like to camp out, small ones and big ones. There are lots of hotels, Bed and Breakfast and house rentals. You can find them all on the internet if you search for them. I'm not recommending them here, because I've never slept in a hotel in my own area, so I wouldn't know what to say about them. Best thing is to read the reviews of the people who've been there and therefore know what they are talking about. However what one person might see as a bad service, could've been sufficient for someone else. Reviews of customers are seldom objective.
If you're looking for staying just for one night, a weekend or a midweek, those B&B's aren't the worst accomodations to be sleeping in.
B&B accomodation "Lief Huisje Zeeland" (Cosy Little House)
Places where you can eat
How Can I Find the Best Restaurants
Today you can find anything on the internet and that goes for finding a nice and cozy restaurant too. There are too many in Zeelandic Flanders to give you a list. Just type 'restaurants in Zeeuws-Vlaanderen' in your browser and it will give you lots of information.
There are restaurants on the beach and in almost every little village in this area. Zeelandic Flanders is famous for its sea food, so if you like to eat fish, I'm sure you'll find one. The village of Philippine is a small village, which was build in 1505 and was connected through the sea inlet Braakman to the Western Scheldt and North Sea. They developed the culture of mussels and became famous for it. Around 1900 this inlet silted up and in 1952 the Braakman was dammed up. Philippine however never lost its fame for the mussels and you can still find 8 restaurants which mainly serve mussels.
Fishing Boat in Breskens
Fishing Nets - the Fishermen's Gear
What Is the Best Way to Learn About the Local History?
The best way to learn about the local history is to visit the local musea.
- Aardenburg - Archeologic museum
- Breskens - Fishing museum
- IJzendijke - Local area museum
- Koewacht - Flax museum
Aardenburg - Archaeological Museum
The City of Aardenburg - a Roman Settlement
Aardenburg is from origin a Roman settlement and a lot of what was found in the ground has been restored and is displayed in the cutest little museum showing the roman excavations. Aardenburg is famous too for its Pre-Gothic Church (Western Scheldt Gothic) displaying its ancient painted and restored stone graves.
I've lived in this village during my childhood in a marvellous 17th century old house.
My 17th Century Childhood Home in Aardenburg
Fishing Museum Breskens - Showing Treasures Caught in Fishing Nets
Breskens is a small town, situated the sea arm Western Scheldt. It has always been a fishermen's village and they still have a fishing fleet these days. The village got a total overhauling in the last decade. Most famous is the Fishing Museum at the harbor. You can see models of fishing boats, they have a reconstruction of the tides which works on a time clock, and they have fossils found in the nets of the fishing boats and even a partly skeleton of a Mammoth. they have aquaria with fish that swim in the North sea. Very interesting too is the private collection of the late Thijs Verschoor of all the animals he found (dead) along the coast of Zeeland. He had them preserved and they're now presented in this museum.
The video below is spoken in Dutch, but the images give you a good impression of what this museum has to offer. It's wheelchair accessible (elevator).
Fishing Museum Breskens - An Impression
If you should go on a Holiday...
What do you prefer?
Or you can go.....
* enjoying the country sight
* having a romantic evening
* visiting me
Are you already planning a vacation?
Then let it be in summertime
As West-Zeeuws-Vlaanderen is partly depending for its income on the tourists, a lot of the attractions and museums are closed in off season, but our nature will always be there. There is a lot more to see than I've showed you, but I think you'll get a good impression of what Zeeuws-Vlaanderen is about. When you do plan a holiday in my land, just let me know and I'll put the kettle on the wood stove or we can sip a glass of wine while looking at the beautiful sunset.
Footsteps of Seasons
When ice is melting from the warmth of sun,
green leaves will sprout from branches bold
and sounds of new life will tickle your ears,
delightful sight, when butterflies unfold.
The time of growing into adulthood,
where beauty is spread in different ways,
when young hearts leap at promising smiles
and the fragrance of roses lingers for days.
The soil is wet, life's coming to its end,
slowly leaves fall, in orange brown glows.
The painter of sky is busy these days,
wind's playing the drums whenever he blows.
While silenced by the winter's blanket white,
we'll rest our souls in peaceful, candle light.
© 2011 Titia Geertman